The pretty faces of tinsel town have a lot to hide, warts and all. And actor-turned-director Arjun Chakraborty makes no bones about it in his debut film Tollylights. From the vantage point of an industry insider, Arjun zooms into the darker side of the arclights — of channels fabricating stories to boost TRPs and actresses reduced to penury in old age.
Two tracks run parallel in Tollylights — one is that of a wannabe film-maker (played by Arjun himself) trying to climb the slippery ropes of success, the other is a happy home-maker lured into a world of lucre and limelight.
The film is as much about the treacherous terrains of the glamour world as it is about an ordinary woman who wakes up to her dormant ambitions and dumps family for fame.
Though her emotional graph is not traced in detail, Sreelekhas story moves back and forth to expose her love of the good life as well as her loneliness despite getting it all. In between long silences and occasional emotional outbursts, Sreelekha soaks in a foam bath, sips on whisky and totters into a live-in relationship with an ageing jatra actor. Hes a womaniser who speaks Anglicised Bengali, played to perfection by Satyajit Rays Seemabaddha man Barun Chanda.
Arindam Sil fits the bill of a bitter husband, who initially eggs his wife on and later struggles to rein her in.
Sreelekha, unfortunately, does better as a housewife than as a glam doll (one needs more shapely thighs to wear hot pants with fishnet stockings).
To give Arjuns film a real feel, many of his filmi colleagues line up for cameos. Tollylights tees off with a film-within-a-film scene, in which Mithun Chakraborty rattles off heavy-duty dialogue. The shower of star faces includes Satabdi Roy, Tapas Pal, Abhishek and Amitabh Bhattacharya.
Tollylights ends with Arjuns track — the film-maker on the verge of abandoning his celluloid dream. But just when despair engulfs his world, enter Punjab da puttar Sunny Deol with an offer of a lifetime!
Sarod player Tejendra Narayan Majumdars music is nothing to write home about and the film sure could have done without Sreelekhas booty-shaking act along with Abhishek to the raunchy number Chalo kheli aaj (meant to be a fundraiser for thalassaemic children!).
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